T.R.E.E.S. Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary
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FEEDING TIPSFEEDING HAY TO ELDERSTHE METABOLICALLY CHALLENGED HORSEIMPORTANCE OF ROUGHAGE

FEEDING TIPS

  • Senior horses with dental problems will eat much more easily if their feed is well soaked.  The degree of "mushiness" is an individual preference, but most horses do not like the food "soupy."  If your horse is accustomed to dry food, the new texture may put him off a little at first.  Make the change from dry to soaked meals gradually.

  • Soaked food may sometimes end up nicely distributed over the horse's face by the time the meal is over.  To avoid some of the mess, feed in a wide, shallow pan or dish, rather than a narrow deep bucket.  If the horse does end up wearing some of its meal, clean his face as soon as possible so he won't be quite as attractive to flies.

  • If your senior eats slowly or is in any position other than the top of the "pecking order," separate him from other horses at meal times.  Make sure he has ample opportunity to eat his entire meal in peace.

  • Many horses with marginal dental problems cannot eat stemmy hays, like first cutting timothy for instance, but do pretty well when offered a leafy, tender, second cutting orchardgrass, for example.

  • When chewing hay is out of the question, offer a chopped grass forage product.  Chopped forages containing alfalfa are often much more coarse than those that are exclusively grass. 

  • When offering even the most tender hay to dentally challenged seniors, presentation is everything.  Some horses, when offered a whole "flake" of densely baled hay, will take too much into their mouths at once and must eventually spit it back out.  By shaking out the flake of hay to make a loose pile of individual strands, you make it easier for the horse to take in a few blades at a time. 

  • Some older horses do not voluntarily drink as much water as they should.  Soaking all meals, including the forages, will help increase water intake.

  • With your veterinarian, determine your horse's daily nutritional requirements.  (Do not depend on the feed bag.  Those are guidelines - averages - and may not be 100% appropriate for your horse.)  Divide the total amount of feed into several meals; 3 or 4 servings if possible. 

  • When serving soaked feed be careful about allowing leftovers to sit for long periods of time.  In warm weather, leftover food will attract flies and can quickly spoil, making it unfit to eat later.  In winter it will freeze solid and go to waste.

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NOTE:  Material presented by Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary on equineelders.org or in any other manner is for information purposes only.  It is in no way intended to replace the services or advice of your veterinarian.

HOMEABOUT TREESOUR ELDERSYOU CAN HELPELDER CAREFARM & HERDRESOURCESVOLUNTEERINGFAQ'SDONATECONTACTBLOG
FEEDING TIPSFEEDING HAY TO ELDERSTHE METABOLICALLY CHALLENGED HORSEIMPORTANCE OF ROUGHAGE